Gunmen have wounded a prominent Sunni Muslim cleric, killing three of his guards and his driver in an apparently sectarian attack in southern Pakistan.

Imran Shaukat, a police official, said that Aurangzeb Farooqi's vehicle came under attack on Tuesday while passing through the heart of the port city of Karachi.

Farooqi leads the Ahle Sunnat wal Jammat, a small political party that is associated with the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a banned sectarian extremist organisation.

Farooqi was hit in the leg by a bullet and needed hospital treatment, but his injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, is in the grip of a long-running wave of political and sectarian violence.

Witnesses said that Farooqi's supporters blocked roads and burnt used tyres to protest against the attack.

Pakistan is Sunni-majority, and while most Sunnis and Shias live peacefully together, nationwide sectarian violence between extremists of both sects is estimated to have killed more than 4,000 people since the late 1990s.

There has been an uptick in such violence this year, with hundreds of Shias, particularly those of the Hazara ethnicity, being killed since the beginning of 2012.

Source: Agencies